Reasserting its all-mountain dominance.
Delving into the history of Santa Cruz's premiere all-mountain bike, you'll find it was instrumental in swaying the preconceived notions of riders skeptical of the so-called "tweener" 27.5-inch wheel size back in 2013, seeing just how damn capable the bike was everywhere from lengthy rides in the mountains to enduro race courses and even blasting a few laps at the local bike park. So when Santa Cruz announced they completely redesigned the Bronson Carbon 27.5 S Complete Mountain Bike with a longer, more aggressive geometry for the ever-increasing capabilities demanded by riders and a lower-link driven shock inspired by the latest gen Nomad, we gladly listened and took note, seeing their expertise and foresight in designing mountain bikes far surpasses the skeptical attitudes prevalent in much of the mountain bike world.
One of the biggest changes to the third-gen Bronson lies in a longer, slacker geometry that pushes it deeper into the gravity end of the riding spectrum. However, this redesign doesn't significantly alter its all-around versatility, meaning it's still great for the rider that desires the monster truck plushness of a slack, long-travel rig while having fun on trail systems with big climbs and high-speed descents. To be specific, Santa Cruz lengthened the reach by approximately 15 millimeters per size for a more confident, comfortable feel at higher speeds, plus a centimeter lower standover height for a better fit with shorter riders. The head tube angle drops from the previous generation's already slack 66 degrees to an even slacker 65.4 degrees in its highest setting, complete with a flip-chip that slackens it out even further to a bike park-friendly 65.1 degrees. These were numbers that you'd only see on a freeride or mini-DH bike just a few years ago, meaning you'll have tons of confidence bombing those technical descents littered with steep drop-offs and nasty rock sections.
Another significant change to the latest Bronson lies in a reconfigured VPP suspension platform. Instead of relying on upper-link driven design, the third generation Bronson enjoys the increased bump compliance and glued-to-the-trail traction you'll experience with a VPP suspension driven by a lower-link mounted shock that's inspired by the latest Nomad. This lower-link driven VPP suspension platform is something that's reserved exclusively for the Bronson, Nomad, and V10, seeing the need for increased bump compliance, better support, and higher levels of traction for all-mountain, freeride, and downhill disciplines. To best match the increased performance capabilities of this lower-link driven VPP, Santa Cruz spec'd a Super Deluxe shock for a more supple feel that tracks to the ground noticeably better and resists heating up on those scintillating descents over thousands of vertical feet.
The last major change implemented on the third-gen Bronson is the ability to clear tires up to a whopping 2.8 inches wide, thanks to increased space in the rear triangle for the needs of modern wide trail tires. We've personally found the newly spec'd 2.5-inch Minion DHF up front and 2.4-inch Minion DHR II out back provide the best balance of all-out grip and plow-anything confidence, all without losing much in terms of rolling efficiency when you have to climb back uphill or accelerate from a dead stop. Running traditional plus-sized tires in the realm of 2.8 inches tends to have a negative effect with all the added weight, as well as having a tendency to feel squirmish under hard braking and cornering.
Lucky for all of us, one thing that hasn't changed is Santa Cruz's carbon frames, which is a good thing if you're after the legendary strength and unwavering stiffness of their renowned carbon layups. This particular Bronson benefits from the Carbon C layup, which makes for a resoundingly stiff frame for swift acceleration and unflappable poise while pummeling across rough terrain. It's backed by Santa Cruz's excellent lifetime warranty, so you'll have extra peace of mind while riding particularly fast on your favorite stretch of trail and shuttling downhill laps on the mountain pass.
- Santa Cruz redefines their all-mountain masterpiece
- Aggressive geometry is slacker and longer than before
- Flip-chip slackens the head tube angle from 65.4° to 65.1°
- 6in of VPP travel tames steep, rocky descents and big hits
- Lower-link driven shock provides better traction and support
- Carbon C frame is impressively stiff for precise handling
- One inch shorter seat tube for running longer dropper posts
- SRAM GX Eagle drivetrain offers massive range of usable gears